Entity Type:
Birkett, Robert James (1915-1993), known as Jim
Birkett, Robert James (1915-1993), known as Jim
Birkett developed digits of steel while heaving huge lumps of rock about in the quarries of Langdale. ‘If I get my fingers over something, the rest will generally follow’, he was memorably recorded as saying. Progressing from birds’ nesting as a child to rock climbing for fun as a teenager, by the late 1930s he had quickly established himself as one of the most powerful young climbers yet to grace the crags of Lakeland. He opened up the now famous climbing grounds of Castle Rock of Triermain and Scafell’s East Buttress, and was consistently pushing the boundaries of mild 'Extreme' rock climbing grades before people realised that was what they were. Birkett was also briefly controversial, thanks to his attempts to initiate a local association of professional Lakeland climbing guides - and the use of a peg on his landmark ascent of May Day Climb on Scafell’s East Buttress – an act which he regretted ever after. Birkett continued the tradition of climbing in nailed boots long after it began to be abandoned by others, and was said to be one of the most skilled and precise practitioners of ‘nailed climbing’ that ever lived. As well as his routes he left a genetic legacy in the form of the continuing adventures of the Birkett Clan, with his sons Bill and Dave continuing the tradition of cutting edge routes – and on occasion, further controversy.
Standout climbs: Overhanging Bastion (VS), Harlot Face (E1), Slab and Groove (VS), Do Not (E1), Slip Not (MVS)

Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Birkett, Robert James (1915-1993), known as Jim